Mecklenburg City’s public health goals focus on greater equity WFAE 90.7

Mecklenburg City Commissioners began their 3-day budget retreat Wednesday to discuss priorities for the next fiscal year. One of their main concerns: health disparities, particularly among the county’s most vulnerable residents.

Mecklenburg City Health Director Dr. Reynard Washington told the commissioners his main goals are around greater equity. One of these goals is to increase access to primary health care. 1 in 4 adults in Mecklenburg County reported not having a primary care provider. Another priority is advocating for Medicaid expansion to help the uninsured.

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Washington also addressed the county’s infant mortality numbers, another area where racial disparities persist. In the year By 2020, the total number of deaths per 1,000 live births has decreased to about five. But that same year, there were about 10 infant deaths per 1,000 live births among African Americans in Mecklenburg. That’s three times the death rate for white infants per 1,000 live births.

One reason is access to prenatal care, Washington says. It is another danger.

“Also in the black community, there are more deaths associated with accidents in the first year of life, or unintended harm, which is the official category that we assign,” Washington said. “This unfortunately includes children who die from sleep-related conditions because they are not in safe sleeping environments. Or in some cases, unfortunately, children who die in the first year of life.”

The budget retreat will last until Friday afternoon. You can find the full agenda here. Online hereand watch the meetings live online at

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